Day 39 – Lent Challenge – Freedom.
My penultimate blog for lent. 39 blogs on people that have changed and influenced my life. It’s a thank you an acknowledgement to some amazing people that I have been privileged to know, and in some cases love.
Writing the blogs has been a little bit of an epic journey. Some blogs I have had to work desperately hard to find the words that tell my story. It’s been very emotional at times, I find healing in the writing.
This blog is a thank you to a very individual down to earth man. I have so much respect for him, he showed great friendship and kindness. He also took me beyond my comfort zone, allowing me to experience the joys of being happy in my own skin.
Understanding my own journey to happiness is individual to me, not to compare myself to others. Learning that expressing my thoughts even if those around me do not think the same as me is ok.
He helped me take my first steps to seeing the freedom of thinking different. He helped me find the confidence that was buried very deep within myself, bringing it slightly nearer the surface. I found joy in being myself, making me feel more motivated and more determined to challenge myself, to be adventurous.
He taught me the values of being me and never forgetting how important that is.
He believed in me, he trusted me to push myself but also gave me space for when things become to uncomfortable.
I smile when I think about our times together. The journeys to visit him and his wife. The evenings spent on the edge of the Mendips sat in their garden watching shooting stars.
His funeral that filled the tiny parish church. He was a special one of kind type of person.
Although I am shy and lack confidence.I am happy in my own skin and have been for many years. The confidence that he taught me was a inner confidence. It stayed inside without the voice until I found my faith.
I am revisiting the area that he lived more frequently at the moment.
A journey that followers the same roads but with a completely different destination.
I journey that will need me or push myself in ways that I have yet to think possible.
A journey that scares me far more than excites me. Discovering and responding to Gods call, journeying beyond my boundaries.
It’s stepping out to follow where Gods voice is calling me. Finding my faith has given purpose and reason to challenge myself. Allowing confidence that has been locked away inside to grow. God has given me a voice and with that voice comes adventure, love, hope to a destination yet unknown.
Jeremiah 29:13 Good News Translation (GNT)
13 You will seek me, and you will find me because you will seek me with all your heart.
Day 38 – Lent Challenge – Hope
Blogging about the word hope has not been as straight forward as I thought. I have struggled with this simple 4 letter word. Of course I hope but on it’s own the word “hope” just seemed so week.
I really wanted to try and work out my thinking behind this. Spending time outside walking and praying my reasons started to become slightly clearer.
Walking and praying personally works for me. Being outside the man-made barriers that can distract me from prayer are removed and overpowered by the beauty of creation.
While walking the silent conversations of prayer are echoed in the rhythm of my footsteps. In that silent space the Holy Spirit listens and talks to my heart. I find myself questioning my questions and in some spiritual bizarre way I start to answer my own questions myself.
But it’s almost as if God makes me work for the answers as a teacher would. Encouraging me to use the knowledge I already have. To look and deeper within myself to gain more knowledge to join up my thinking.
At the moment is my heart is full of words that my head is not quiet ready to yet join up.
I am sure in time God will help me find the wisdom to form these connections. But Gods time is not considering my need to finish and publish this blog today,
So I am going to try and explain why I feel hope on it’s own is just not enough.
I’ve always had hope in my life, I’ve hoped and dreamed for myself and others.
It’s only when hope and faith meet Gods love did my life transform,.
Faith is my firm belief and trust in God. Through the Holy Spirit my faith grows.I get to know God better. Hope is the possibilities that come from experiencing Gods love. It’s a love that inspires me by my actions to see the potential of my faith. My faith is never still, it grows and changes as God challenges and changes me. Faith gives hope and that hope strengthens my love for Jesus, so my faith grows. Love empowers hope, You can’t have hope without faith, or faith without hope. Without faith, hope is just a powerless wish.
During my walk and prayers I felt that this blog should be a thank you midwife that delivered our daughter. Childbirth, love, faith and hope are so intertwined.( That’s another blog for another day).
Jeremiah 29:11-13 Good News Translation (GNT)
11 I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.[a] 12 Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you. 13 You will seek me, and you will find me because you will seek me with all your heart.
Day 34 – Lent challenge – Accept.
I sat on my mums lap, her arms wrapped around me. She moved slowly and rhythmically as she held me in her arms. It comes so naturally to her. We sat together with other families listening to the story of Jacob and Esau.
A story where sibling rivalry try’s to distort and destroy all it touches. The story of two bothers fighting over the love of their father, fighting over what they both consider to be rightfully theirs. It’s God that sees these two brother reunited .
My beautiful mother knows so well the pain caused when siblings fight each other. You see my sister and I are not exactly the best of friends.
This lack of friendship does not stop me loving my sister. Just as last night I was not to big ( just over sized ) to sit on my mums lap. Being held in her love surrounded by Gods love.
Listening to a story that in so many ways echoes my own relationship with my sister.
Our story is a painful story. The saddest thing about our story is we both hurt the person we love; our mum. I can no longer accept this. I would never want my actions to hurt others. So why do I constantly hurt my mum.
The biggest reason is fear. It’s a selfish fear for which I am sorry. It’s a fear that my sister will hurt me as she has done in the past. I fear her scheming, deception and the way she can manipulate me. Taking advantage of my weaknesses, leading me to a place of trust only to hurt me as she has done before.
This is no longer an acceptable way to behave. I no longer have to face these fears alone, I am ready to move forward. Taking that leap of faith, knowing that wherever I land God will be with me. In my weakness, he is strong. I pray that we can be reconciled together in some way. What ever way this happens I know God will be a part of that reunion. A reunion that will give peace and joy to my mum.
Last night as we were listened to the story of Jacob and Esau the listening turned into acting. The last part of this story is reconciliation and of course a hug. It’s amazing how much more powerful words are when accompanied by actions. We all played roles, I was one of many donkeys. Jacob and Esau were played by twin boys. Seeing these boys walk towards each other and give each other a awkward hug was profound and moving . After a hug we had prayers. We prayed for people that we wanted to build relationships with. We prayed for broken relationships and healing.
Praying with children and their families is always a privilege and a joy. Being with them as they explore and grow in faith is awesome . I get so excited by their prayers. The language the children use to talk to God is always so pure and humbling. It excites me how obvious children make faith, how uncompleted it is to them. As adults we over complicate something so simple and beautiful as prayer.
A Prayer for my sister.
This is pray for my sister.
I pray from my heart through you to her heart.
I ask that we see each other and love each other as sisters should.
That in this loving we heal past hurts and soothe past deeds.
I ask for forgiveness for the pain we both cause to each other and those that love us.
I pray that our families can be joined in love, your love.
Lord I ask that somehow you open doors and opportunities for our relationships to heal and grow.
That we will have the wisdom to see and use these opportunities for love. That from that love friendships may form and grow.
I pray for the sense and understanding to be realistic and accept the path this journey will take.
Please give me the strength to listen to you. I ask that my words will be kind, my thoughts loving and my actions sincere.
I ask that we will find peace hope and forgiveness as we journey with you.
2 Corinthians 12:9 Good News Translation (GNT)
9 But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.
Day 31- Lent challenge – Retreat.
This blog is to author Paul Young.
2017 Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday I went on a personal unplanned retreat into a virtual world. An absorbing journey that seeks to provide answers to the question ” Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?”
A journey that confirmed what I already knew. A journey that gave story to my pain. A journey into the pages of a novel. Deep into the pages of a book.
“The Shack” by Paul Young.
I know this book has it critics. It’s said not to be theological sound, incorrect in its teachings even a danger to the christian faith.
To me “The Shack” is a powerful novel telling a story of grief and pain. God’s love giving comfort to those who have been overwhelmed by tragedy. It does not try to be anything else. It tells a story; a story that tells us nothing new. A story that tells us God is good. A story that added depth and understanding to the questions that played on my mind.
The story brings the issues of forgiveness and places them in a modern world. It gives a voice to frustration and anger caused by pain, heart felt pain. Theirs real understanding that when bad things happen it hurts.The shack shows us, walks with us through our emotions to a place of forgiveness.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean we forget or accept someone’s actions. It’s forgiveness that releases angry burdens that we carry. In that letting go of angry we heal slowly, we heal in love.
God is always their in our deepest hurts, regrets, and longings.
One of my deepest hurts was a short car journey to say goodbye to a special little person.
I could feel God was with us on that short journey. It was obvious and powerful.
The shack made me think more about the three people in the car that day. Seeing us as three individuals traveling together, each of us having a deep personal individual relationship with Jesus .
We were on the same journey in the same car, all with our own different emotional needs.
These needs were acknowledged and meet by God. Intimate conversations lovingly whispered. Our own taylor made personal emotional survival kit. Through the pain God did not leave us.
Taylor made support surrounded by love.
I knew all this all before reading “The Shack “. But it was not until reading the book did I realise how comforting that was to me. How important it was to me that the little person that I loved so much was not alone. Jesus her special friend was with her. Never leaving her, being where I could not.
As this little person told me herself so many times. “Jesus is my friend he’s always with me. He’s with me in the playground, he’s with me at bed time, he never leaves me”.
It’s strange how obvious some things are. How we deeply know them to the point that knowing becomes a feeling. We read listen, are told over and over again; We understand .Yet it took a trip to “ The Shack “ for me to realise the depth, vastness, greatness, wholeness and the comfort of what it means to know you are never alone.
Isaiah 49:16 Good News Translation (GNT)
Jerusalem, I can never forget you!
I have written your name on the palms of my hands.
Day 30 – Lent challenge – Friendship
This poem is for a friend. It tells of our journey together.
Love – Faith – Friendship.
Friendship of colours painted on faces.
Blended with glitter and sparkly dust.
Henna flowers on the backs of our hands
Hugs of glitter crafted in love.
Friendship, painted, splattered.
Bold colours blossomed.
So we grow.
Journeying as families
Through tears we said our goodbyes
Anchoring our hearts in pain.
Holding firm you kept us secure.
You understand our pain.
Quietly empty our hearts longing.
Stopped and stunned empty silence .
Intertwined with leaves of children’s laughter
Families standing together.
New beginnings -fresh laughter.
Breakfasts cooked- films watched
Sunrise blocking out our pains.
Nourished by just being.
Nurtured by prayer.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Good News Translation (GNT)
4 Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; 5 love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; 6 love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. 7 Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.
8 Love is eternal. There are inspired messages, but they are temporary; there are gifts of speaking in strange tongues, but they will cease; there is knowledge, but it will pass.
Day 20 – Lent challenge – Love.
This blog is to my parents – They are all 40 of my blog tiles and so much more. 40 words of love and thanks to my wonderful parents.
1. Learn – Dad thank you for all the hours we spent at the allotment together.
2. Remember – Dad remember when my baby hedgehogs escaped into your bed in the early hours of the morning. Thank you for seeing the funny side. (mum did not)
3.Breathe – Mum and Dad you breathed your life into me .
4.Hospitality – Mum you are the queen of hospitality. I still have so much to learn from you.
5.Receive – Mum and Dad you welcomed and received my husband into the family. Thank you.
6.Listen – Mum thank you to reading to me.
7.Search – Mum and Dad sorry for stoping out so late that you had to go out looking for me. The sunset that night was beautiful and worth getting into trouble for.
8.Faith – Mum and Dad thank you for not forcing my faith. You allowed me to discover it myself.
9.Follow – Dad thank you for the lovely cycle rides around the country side. I would follow you for miles, listening to stories of your childhood.
10.Joy – The joy I felt when I came home from school to find you had been to the dogs home and brought home lucky a little collie cross.
11.Despair – Mum you always say you despair of me. I love that you understand my scatterbrain.
12. Hunger -I was always asking for some new pet. Some ridiculously impractical others not so. I remember my hunger strike for a pet mouse. Not sure how long I lasted but I never got the mouse. Thank you for saying No to me and the mouse ( The mouth turned out to be pregnant )
13. Refresh – Mum and Dad thank you for being such wonderful grandparents to H. For the holidays and the baby sitting. We valued that time to be together as a couple as much as H enjoyed her time with you.
14. Journey – The holidays we had where always eventful. Our unreliable cars only just getting us home was all part of the fun.
15.Family – Mum thank you for being the granny to our foster children. You have treated and loved them as you have loved us.
16. Still– I love the stillness of water. Our trips to abbots pool were always a favourite. The joy of collecting tadpoles and watching them grow.
17. Celebrate – Mum and Dad I celebrate your marriage and your love for each other.
18.Ask – Mum and Dad thank you for saying no to me.
19. Forgive – Dad thank you making lots of rabbit hutches for all the baby bunnies. For forgiving me when I went to work and the boy bunnies got into the girl bunnies as I never shut the door properly,
20.Love – Thank you for your unconditional love that I never once questioned.
21.Deliver– Mum you have delivered the church magazine for over 40 years. I always loved this monthly ritual. We would stop for coffee and biscuits and share conversation.
22.Longing – Mum I know you long for some sort of reconciliation between me and my sister. I pray for this too.
23.Challenge – Thank you for always believing and encouraging me in all that I did.
24.Refine– Mum I am so much like you. In looks and ways just slightly different.
25.Live – I am the 4th generation to live in our village. Mum and Dad thank you for give me such a good foundation in life.
26. Sacrifice– Thank you for being wonderful parents. You gave everything for us to have a happy childhood.
27.Fear – The only time I can remember fear is when we lost my sister for 3.5 hours on a busy beach. With the tide coming in police coastguard all involved in the search.
28.Endure – As a family we have said goodbye to so many, friends and family. The pain of this has made us stronger.
29.Questions – Thank you for answering my questions with honesty.
30.Friendship – Mum thank you for supporting my friend when her life was difficult.
31. Retreat– Dad your garden was your place to retreat, thank you for sharing your space with me.
32.Remain -Dad you might no be here, but a bit part of you remains with me.
33.Give – Dad my favourite Christmas gift was the dolls house you made me. You secretly worked in the garage to build the house of my dreams – Thank you.
34.Accept – Dad we had to all accept that you had cancer and that it had spread beyond treatment. You never gave up. You never gave us false hope. You helped us come to terms to a life without you.
35.Lead– Dad you lead me down the isle. Thank you for making our wedding day so wonderful and perfect .
36. Review – Dad you always reviewed you work, checked and double checked everything. I loved that about you. I love my sister is the same yet I am the opposite to both of you.
37. Wait – As a family we loved to fish down the docks. Rods out feet dangling over the dock wall.Their was something in the waiting in the not knowing if we would catch anything.
38. Hope – I always had hopes and dreams. You never said I could not, you never thought my ideas were to wacky.
39. Freedom – Mum and Dad thank you for the freedom to learn by own mistakes.
40.Begin – Thank you for having me baptised.
When I asked my mum for her favourite bible passage, hymn that comforts her she emailed me back a few lines from Dear lord and father of mankind.
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
Day Nine – Lent Challenge 2018 – Follow
Today’s blog is for my foster daughter you taught me so much. Thank you for all you have done for me and all that taught me. She made my faith real and alive. She answered my questions without me having to ask them. We grew together in faith often it was her leading me.
She opened my eyes to a world that I never thought was possible. She has showed me how simple faith can be. She saw Jesus as her friend, chatting away to him as she talked to her school friends. Jesus’s name would pop up in conversation naturally and beautifully. This little 4 year old girl had been removed from her mother and father, separated from her siblings and found Jesus.
Her faith was not about long words and things we don’t understand. It’s was about friendship, Gods love and not being alone in the world that scared her so much. Her understanding was pure and beautiful as was she.
My little shadow followed me. You were never more than a few feet away from my side. You trusted me. That trust allowed you to move on; journey in life without me.
Following is about trust and you trusted. I trust God to look after you.
I miss my little shadow and her non stop chatter.
She left me knowing that she was loved by God.
13-15 One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left.